Transit of Mercury, 9 May 2016


Only the Inferior Planets can transit the Sun. A transit occurs when an Inferior Planet passes directly between the Earth and the Sun appearing as a black spot against the Sun. Transits are rare.

Transits of Mercury occur about 13 times per century. Because of the eccentricity of Mercury's orbit, 9 transits happen in November and only 4 in May. The transit is not visible to the naked eye and must be viewed by projection. This is a list of recent and future transit dates:

I saw the 7 May 2003 Transit from London during the morning.

The Transit of 9 May 2016 was visible from most of the world with the exception of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia and Eastern China.

Transit of Mercury 2016

9 May 2016

It was a sunny day so I took my 2.5 inch (10cm) telescope to work and set it up on a chair, pointed it at the sun and projected the image onto a white card. Another piece of paper covered up the telescope and kept the light off the image of the Sun.

A large sunspot was visible in the centre of the image. Sunspots are dark and fuzzy with irregular shapes.

The Transit began at 12:12 and ended at 19:42.

I saw it from about 13:10 to 14:10. By 15:00 it had clouded over.


Transit of Mercury
Projected image of the Sun with a sunspot (top left) and Mercury (right).

Telescopic view of the filtered Sun showing Mercury and sunspots.

Telescopic view of the filtered Sun showing Mercury as a perfectly round black spot.

Telescopic view of the filtered Sun showing Mercury and two sun spot groups.

Photo Credits

Talaat Qureshi
Projected image of the transit.

Nicola Mackin
Telescopic views of the filtered Sun. Nicola was at the 2006 solar eclipse in Turkey close to our location and later contacted us.